The First Fully Operational, Large-Scale Drone Airline in the US: Ameriflight Gets FAA Approval for Matternet M2 Commercial Delivery

Ameriflight Granted Part 135 Certificate Approval to Offer Matternet’s Drone Delivery Service in US

by DRONELIFE Staff Writer Ian M. Crosby

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Drone delivery system developer Matternet has announced that its partner Ameriflight has received FAA approval to operate the Matternet M2 for commercial delivery, making it the second operator in the U.S. to obtain such authorization. Together, Matternet and Ameriflight will be the country’s first fully operational large-scale drone airline, with a focus on health care and e-commerce deliveries.

This development comes after the FAA’s approval of Matternet’s M2 aircraft for operations under Ameriflight’s Part 135 certificate, as well as Matternet’s receival of FAA Type and Production certifications for the M2 last year. The M2 is the first unmanned aircraft to receive such certifications. Designed for large scale operation, a recent FAA waiver enabled the operation of up to 20 M2 drones by a single pilot at Matternet’s California test facility. These capabilities let Matternet scale its drone delivery services and provide its technology to additional customers.

The agreement will see Ameriflight operate the Matternet M2 for package delivery to Matternet customers nationwide. Through its Part 135 certificate, Ameriflight will employ Matternet’s software platform to manage a fleet of Matternet M2 drones from a central Remote Operating Center, enabling the safe and efficient operation of its drone delivery service while satisfying all regulatory requirements.

“As the only unmanned aircraft with both FAA Type and Production certificates, we are now turning our focus to scaling our operations across the U.S. and expanding into e-commerce, while doing so safely and cost-effectively,” said Matternet Co-Founder and CEO Andreas Raptopoulos. “We are thrilled to partner with Ameriflight, a leading cargo airline with a strong track record of reliability and performance, to enable the nationwide deployment of our drone delivery system. This partnership enables us to offer our customers turnkey access to fast and reliable on-demand delivery capabilities today. This is not a test program or a future deployment concept – this is the real, scalable and safe drone-based solution that customers are looking for.”

The service’s initial customers will consist of hospitals, laboratories and pharmacies, granting faster and more reliable delivery times. Matternet is also expanding into e-commerce, where its deliveries can enable rapid delivery of single packages with considerably less emissions than cars or vans.

Ameriflight averages over 500 departures per day, with more than 100,000 combined flight hours and an on-time performance record of over 99%.

“Adding this state-of-the-art, environmentally friendly aircraft and launching our UAS division allows us to expand our service offerings to off-airport alternative sites for time-sensitive small package needs,” said Ameriflight President and CEO Alan Rusinowitz. “Matternet’s technology is at the forefront of autonomous innovation and provides a revolutionary solution for customers. We’re looking forward to launching our first M2 flights very soon, and, as we move forward into future flight, developing additional areas of drone delivery.”

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Ian attended Dominican University of California, where he received a BA in English in 2019. With a lifelong passion for writing and storytelling and a keen interest in technology, he is now contributing to DroneLife as a staff writer.